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by Mike Zazaian September 11, 2006 - 1:56pm, 2 Comments

Gas Lines, and Terabits and 6Gbps Ethernet, Oh My!

Super-Wide-Broadband provider Nethercomm promises cheap broadband through your natural gas lines, and all without blowing up your house.

Over the past several years communications companies have researched new methods of bringing faster, more versatile broadband to households around the world. One hot technology, Broadband over phone lines, or BPL has been thoroughly researched as a cable-line alternative. But because high-bandwidth lines cause interference with nearby electrical signals, BPL causes interference with nearby phone and electrical cables and is not a viable solution. Luckily a new technology from Nethercomm, a new communcations start-up, promises extremely high-speed transfer rates by facilitating a massive, high-bandwidth network through our nation’s natural gas lines.

Nethercomm’s product, called Broadband-in-Gas, or BIG, offers an inexpensive, high-bandwidth solution. Lines would be deep enough under ground as to insulate from interference problems experienced by BPL testers. Because gas lines are so wide and pervasive, such a broadband network would be able to achieve transfer rates of up to 6 gigabytes per second, or about 6,000 times the speed of current broadband technologies. With such high transfer rates, and easy implementation, it seems that the highly-touted DOCSIS broadband would fall right off the map.

Of course, as with all technology, there may be some drawbacks. One might wonder, for instance, if there would be any problems with feeding thousands of electrically charged cables through cement lines filled with highly-explosive natural gas. Well, Nethercomm CEO Patrick Nunally has thought that one through, Due to the isolated, contained environment, the natural gas flow and radio signals co-exist uninterrupted and cannot blow up. Hell, I’d chance blowing up for a shot at 6Gbps downloads.

BIG is also very inexpensive to implement at only $200 per household. Broadband-in-Gas would cost half of BPL’s $400 and only a quarter of traditional cable’s $800 per house. And while only 60% of the nation’s homes currently receive natural gas, let’s just assume that if a consumer has not yet hopped on the natural gas wagon, they’re unlike to be chomping at the bit for high speed internet.

USA Today did some research into the actual working trials of the technology, but found that none had been done yet. Nethercomm plans to test BIG in San Diego, Chicago, and Atlanta over the next few years, making Nethercomm and BIG a three-to-five-years-down-the-road sort of innovation. As it’s promising the fastest internet around, let’s hope there’s some truth in what Nunally’s saying, otherwise DOCSIS will have to do for the meantime at 160Mbps.

[via Ars Technica]